Please Explain: Sleep

Friday, October 23, 2009

Sleeping is something all of us do every day, but exactly what happens to us when we sleep isn’t completely understood. On today’s edition of Please Explain, we’re looking into why we sleep, why we sometimes can’t sleep, and why many of us aren’t sleeping enough. Dr. Allan Pack, Chief of the Division of Sleep Medicine and Professor of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania, and Dr. Michel Cramer Bornemann, Co-Director of the Minnesota Regional Sleep Disorders Center at Hennepin County Medical Center in Minneapolis, join us.


Dr. Allan Pack

Comments [31]

Dorothy from Chelsea

A program on sleep and NOTHING on jet lag? How can that be?

Oct. 24 2009 05:42 AM
mary from Fort Greene

Marielle, yr welcome, and good luck. To Chris who asked about ambien, I loved it the first few years, laughing at the stories of night-cooking and amnesia, until I was cooking and eating my own second dinners in the middle of the night, waking up to some fantastic kitchen scenes in the morning. Funny no more! Terrifying, really.

Oct. 23 2009 01:59 PM
Peter from New York City

I just tuned in. Has anyone mentioned the recent airline story: an overflight of 150 miles with 149 passengers, where the pilots seemingly were unaware of where they were?

Oct. 23 2009 01:50 PM
Diego from NYC

FYI, in my experience the siesta is more of a break than a nap, and it follows the biggest meal of the day, lunch. Dinners are definitely eaten later in Spain, but they tend to be lighter meals than the dinners we eat here.

Oct. 23 2009 01:49 PM
Chris Hanson from New Jersey

What is your opinion of using a sleeping pill(Ambien) every night.

Oct. 23 2009 01:49 PM

Wait a minute

the tradition in Spain with siesta is also big meal in the middle of teh day and lighter meal later

Oct. 23 2009 01:48 PM

I have a few questions...

1) No matter when I wake up, usually around 11:30pm my brain shuts off and I fall asleep is that normal?

2) Most nights, I sleep well for about 4-5 hours, then I usually wake up every 30min to an hour before the alarm goes off. Am I ignoring my natual clock, or just worrying too much?

3) Ever since I have been a child, I've needed a fan on for the white noise to sleep. Of course if I have to sleep with out one, I can, but in ideal circumstances, I need it (every small noise really bugs me). Is that just all in my head?

Oct. 23 2009 01:47 PM
Mark from NJ from NJ

How legitimate is the practice of 'Lucid Dreaming'? As in the Richard Linklater movie, "Waking Life."

Oct. 23 2009 01:42 PM
elena from nyc

beth [11]
see this article:
and grumpy from b'klyn[16], i read gawker too, and sometimes i can't contribute, but actually only about 10% of listeners do. if you're listening for free, like i have to this year because of an incredibly tight budget, quit yer' bellyaching.

Oct. 23 2009 01:42 PM
Fish from brooklyn

I have a tendency to get sleepy after I eat a meal at night (this only happens at night). Sometimes I will also fall asleep if I watch a movie on TV after a meal. This never happens to my husband.

Any thoughts?

PS. I don't feel tired during the day

Oct. 23 2009 01:42 PM
Timothy Gura from Forest Hills

Is it true that one does not sleep more than one needs?

Oct. 23 2009 01:42 PM
Sabrina from Manhattan

The French eat quite late, right before bed. Is that recommended? And how big a meal would be okay?

Oct. 23 2009 01:41 PM
Ashton from Chelsea, Manhattan

Years ago I heard or read that if you're not asleep in 20 minutes, you should simply get up. Do your guests have an opinion on this assertion?

Oct. 23 2009 01:40 PM
Ariana from Palisades NY

I have a 14month old and I went back to work when he was just 12 weeks old and still waking up multiple times a night. I averaged about 5-6 hours of interrupted sleep per night total when he was a newborn and still managed to function just fine. I am still nursing him and even now my need for sleep seems diminished from what it was before I got pregnant.

What (if any) hormone changes take place in a mother than allow her to function with little to no sleep??

Oct. 23 2009 01:34 PM
Marielle from Brooklyn

I too love books on tape at bedtime - this is sometimes very helpful, but not always . . .

Oct. 23 2009 01:34 PM
Anonymous from Brooklyn

I really do love WNYC and I like Leonard Lopate. But just now the woman who accompanied Leonard during the pledge drive plug asked, "How can people listen to WNYC every day and not contribute?"

The answer is:


Oct. 23 2009 01:33 PM
Caroline from staten Island NY

I've used books on tape to relax. Don't get anything too stimulating...just slow stories, history, or memoirs. It's always upsetting when everyone is sleeping but me, and this works.

Oct. 23 2009 01:33 PM
Marielle from Brooklyn

Dear Mary from Fort Greene,

Thank you so much for the recommendation. I was just going to ask how you managed to get "clean" of Ambien!

Oct. 23 2009 01:32 PM
elena from nyc

i read an article at awhile ago [of course i can't find it again] about how some people can get really tired,, going towards sleep, but they have a mutated gene that causes them to become more focused, mindful, i guess. is this what allows me to work in a focused manner while my body feels like it's asleep, only using my hands and whatever my brain is doing? totally screws up my biorhythms, BTW.

Oct. 23 2009 01:28 PM
mary from Fort Greene

Marielle, don't despair. Read "Say Good Night to Insomnia" by Gregg Jacobs. It had changed my life (I am not being paid to say this)!

Oct. 23 2009 01:27 PM
beth carey from East Village

Why are some ppl late sleepers (I'll sleep til noon if I didn't have an alarm) and some ppl wake at like 6AM w/out an alarm?!

Oct. 23 2009 01:27 PM
beth carey from East Village

If short afternoon naps will make workers more focused and productive in the afternoon, I want to take those study results to every job I have. Can you point me to these study results?

Oct. 23 2009 01:26 PM
mary from Fort Greene

After 6 years of taking Ambien, I finally weaned off of it this month because I read a book about sleep, which confusingly, states the opposite of what these guests are saying.

Oct. 23 2009 01:25 PM
Lou from North Jersey from North Jersey

I read the other day that teenagers bodies do not produce a needed harmone/chemical that induces sleep until later in the evening. Can you comment on this.

Oct. 23 2009 01:25 PM
margot cozell from montvale, nj

As we get older (and my friends and I are in our 60s), we always say we don't need as much sleep as younger people. And we all seem to wake every couple of hours and never seem to get an interrupted 6, 7 or 8 hours of sleep. Does age have any bearing on sleep?

Oct. 23 2009 01:22 PM
Marielle from Brooklyn

I also grind my teeth!

Oct. 23 2009 01:21 PM
beth carey from East Village

Will afternoon naps help me function better at work in the afternoon, brain power and focus-wise? My body tells me so. But bosses don't always like this.

Please advise. Thx.

ps - i <3 wnyc am!

Oct. 23 2009 01:20 PM
paul feinberg

why do people grind their teeth?

Oct. 23 2009 01:17 PM

Why would a postmenopausal woman be awakened often abotu 4 AM - not night-swatty but just in need of a cool-down. Is it normal to wake up in the night and then go right back to sleep, within 5 minutes?

I've had trouble sleeping and tried everything- I have learned the following: keep head raised for breathing. Try to breathe through nose not mouth, meridian tapping for worries before sleeping, socks, sleep mask. There was a painter named Catlin (represented in the Smithsonian) who observed all the native tribes in the Americas in the 1800s and has interesting things to say about sleep positions.

Oct. 23 2009 01:14 PM
Marielle from Brooklyn

I've suffered from insomnia for literally my whole life, even as a child. I'm 41 years old now and assume it will only get worse as I get older. I've tried every non-pharmacological suggestion I've ever heard, but none has ever worked. I either have to take an Ambien CR or I don't sleep. I will be very interested to hear this interview.

Oct. 23 2009 12:11 PM
George from Bay Ridge

Why do humans feel the need to nap? How does napping affect sleeping?

How do sleeping pills work?

(Have you noticed I'm posting this at four in the morning?)

Oct. 23 2009 04:19 AM

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